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International Journal of Transpersonal Studies

Abstract

Despite 40 years of dialogue, debate still continues over whether psychedelics are capable of

inducing genuine mystical experiences. This paper first reviews the arguments against this possibility

and shows that all of them contain shortcomings. One reason the debate still continues is

that there has been no adequate theory of mystical states and their relationship to the factors

which produce them. Consequently a theory of mystical states based on Charles Tart’s systems

model of consciousness is proposed. This theory suggests how identical states of consciousness can

be induced by very different means, including contemplative practices and chemical substances,

and yet have different after-effects. Taken together, these ideas lead to the cautious conclusion that

some psychedelics can induce genuine mystical experiences sometimes in some people, and that

the current tendency to label these chemicals as entheogens may be appropriate.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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